This Day In History : December 24

1955 United States

NORAD's Santa tracking service began

On December 24, 1955, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) began its now-famous Santa tracking service. This tradition started when a misprinted phone number in a newspaper advertisement led children to call the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) operations center, asking about Santa's whereabouts. NORAD has continued this tradition, providing updates on Santa's journey each Christmas Eve.

Also on This Day in History December 24

Discover what happened on December 24 with HISTORY's summaries of major events, anniversaries,
famous births and notable deaths.

Births on This Day, December 24
  • 1905 Howard Hughes

    American businessman, engineer, and pilot

  • 1818 James Prescott Joule

    English physicist who formed the basis of the law of conservation of energy

  • 1822 Charles Hermite

    French mathematician he proved that e is transcendental

  • 1910 William Hayward Pickering

    NASA scientist

  • 1957 Hamid Karzai

    Afghan politician, 12th President of Afghanistan

Deaths on This Day, December 24
  • 1914 John Muir

    Scottish-American geologist, botanist, author who founded the Sierra Club, known as the father of the National Parks

  • 1927 Vladimir Bekhterev

    Russian neurophysiologist and psychiatrist

  • 1877 Robert Parker Parrott

    American inventor who developed the rifled cannon known as the Parrott gun

  • 1873 Johns Hopkins

    American financier and philanthropist who founded Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University

  • 1997 Pierre Péladeau

    Canadian businessman and founder of Quebecor


Discovery of Kiritimati (Christmas Island) by Captain James Cook

In 1777, Captain James Cook discovered Kiritimati, also known as Christmas Island, during his third voyage. Located in the Pacific Ocean, Kiritimati is notable for its biodiversity and is one of the world's largest atolls. Cook's exploration contributed to the understanding of Pacific geography and the natural world.

Libya Gains Independence, Idris I Proclaimed King

On December 24, 1951, Libya gained independence from colonial rule under Italy and was proclaimed a sovereign state. Idris I, who had led the struggle for independence, was declared King of Libya. This marked a significant milestone in Libyan history, ending decades of foreign control and paving the way for self-governance.

First Powered Flight of V-1 Buzz Bomb in Peenemünde, Germany

On December 24, 1942, the first powered flight of the V-1 "buzz bomb" took place at Peenemünde, Germany. Developed by Nazi Germany during World War II, the V-1 was an early cruise missile powered by a pulsejet engine. It became one of the first guided missiles used in combat, targeting Allied cities during the war.

Henry Ford Completes His First Useful Gas Motor

In 1893, Henry Ford completed his first practical gasoline-powered motor, marking a significant step in automotive history. This achievement laid the groundwork for his later advancements in automobile manufacturing and the establishment of Ford Motor Company.
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